Remember all the conservative family groups running to a TV camera with angst that Joker should be banned? Remember all the ballyhoo from national media about not watching Joker because it will inspire heinous crimes?
Yeah, about that: And?!
Word is — and the weekend isn’t even over yet at the time of this posting — that Joker crushed the October box office record.
Despite all the harangue of controversy and pleads to increase security at grand opening viewings, the R-rated comic-book movie scored $93.5 million at 4,374 sites over the weekend domestically. To add a heaping of salt in the wound of all those talking heads, the film was shown in 73 international markets internationally bringing in more than $140 million — a $234 million total.
“Joker” generated the biggest 2019 opening for a Warner Bros. title in 39 markets including UK, Russia, Italy, Spain, Poland, UAE, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. It was also the biggest October opening weekend in 21 markets including Spain, UAE, Brazil, Mexico and Australia and the best opening weekend in half a dozen markets including Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea and Chile.
Realism can be profitable. The discussion of a “normal” man who is a victim of bullying, criticism, and hatred and eventually devolves into the shadow of who mama raised and becomes a homicidal, nihilistic fiend who scourges an entire city got some people interested in “Could that really happen?”
Yes We Can
According to Paul Dergarabedian (c/o Variety), senior media analyst with Comscore, the thought of something like this happening created the word-of-mouth buzz long before, but specifically, when the media chimed in:
“Not only did Joker over-perform in North America, but also internationally where the acclaim, buzz, and controversy surrounding the film resonated strongly with moviegoers who put film at the top of their cinematic priority list,” he said. “Movies that become part of the general conversation due to their controversial nature are often those that transcend their status as a movie to become a cultural event and this is exactly what happened with Joker.”
Incidentally, this ranks fourth among all R-rated box office premiere weekends in history, tracking only behind Deadpool ($132.4M), Deadpool 2 ($125.5M), and IT ($123.4M). This is also WB’s largest premiere in more than two years.
Concerns about Aurora were necessary. Discussions about the film’s politics were expected. But, when it came time to punch out and see a fully engrossing film featuring a dynamic actor and a script that may be without equal in a certain genre, Joker made sure the only people laughing were Warner Bros., DC Comics, Todd Phillips, and Joaquin Phoenix…all the way to the bank.
Next stop: Award season. You’ll see.